While scrolling through a list of some current nutrition-related articles, this short piece about a link between weight gain and increased brain volume in anorexic patients caught my eye.
According to a study published online in this month’s International Journal of Eating Disorders, changes in brain volumes of among 32 adult women with anorexia nervosa were compared to that of a control group of 21 healthy women. During the course of the study, the women with anorexia gradually gained weight, and brain volume was measured via MRI.
At the start of the study, the women with anorexia had a lower volume of grey matter than the control group, with the women who had been ill the longest having the least amount, though researchers were careful to mention there was no link between grey matter volume and BMI.
As the patients with anorexia gained weight, their grey matter increased gradually as well, though it did not fully return to a normal level. White matter also appeared to increase.
Though scientists say more research needs to be done to determine what clinical benefits this knowledge could offer and how it could be applied, further studies that focus on specific areas of the brain most effected, for example, could be the next step. We’ve known for a long time that when you’re undernourished, your development and brain function is compromised, so learning more about some of the fine print could be helpful in future treatment.